Right on top of blog rankings

July 1, 2014

Open Parachute’s monthly blog rankings show the right on top:

Visit Rank Blog Visits/month Page Views/month
1 Whale oil beef hooked 1758095 2957997
2 Kiwiblog 445721 771086
3 The Daily Blog 218234 345266
4 The Standard 201495 443470
5 Auckland Transport Blog 155853 160244
6 Throng New Zealand 53729 94004
7 The Dim-Post 53509 75134
8 Sciblogs 39662 50631
9 Liturgy 36160 50478
10 Keeping Stock 33807 53244
11 No Right Turn 26757 35029
12 Homepaddock 26471 36951
13 NewZeal 21726 35094
14 No Minister 20898 27292
15 Music of sound 14879 18833
16 Imperator Fish 13552 17547
17 13th Floor 12544 17630
18 Save our schools NZ 12355 14307
19 Keith Johnson Wellington NZ 12120 12574
20 Offsetting Behaviour 11835 16377

 

The combined total of the top left-wing blogs, which are at third and fourth, is still less than Kiwiblog which is second and miles from Whale Oil in first place.

Dim Post from the left is seventh and Keeping Stock from the right is 10th. I’m at 12, No Minister, which is more right than not is at 14th and Imperator Fish which is left is 16th.

I ditched Sitemeter because I kept getting a window asking me to sign in to it and now rely on StatCounter to record visits:

stats6.14

 

 


No place for the faithful?

June 24, 2014

Labour’s rules state it should have 65 list candidates but it has ranked only 64.

Five sitting MPs have opted not to be on the list and so have at least three candidates who are trying very hard to win an electorate.

There is something in that for them – they will be able to say to voters the electorate vote is the only way they can stay in, or enter, parliament.

But there is also danger in that for Labour.

It’s the party vote that counts and these people will have divided loyalties between campaigning for their own jobs and for the wider good of the party.

That they jumped suggests they knew they wouldn’t get good list places anyway – though if they’re confident of winning electorates that might dent their egos but do no other harm.

Whether they jumped before or after list ranking deliberations doesn’t matter, it’s another sign of internal ructions in the party.

Given that, what puzzles me is why several candidates who are standing in seats they can’t possibly win weren’t included in the party list at all?

Kiwiblog shows 14 candidates unranked.

It’s a thankless task campaigning in an unwinnable seat even if you console yourself that there could be party votes for the picking.

Why then wouldn’t the party dignify them with list placings instead of showing that it appears to have no place for these faithful foot-soldiers and their small teams of volunteers?


Stones from glass house

June 16, 2014

The Labour Party has been caught throwing stones from a glass house – again:

A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the National Party led to a minister’s resignation, also made a secret $15,000 donation to the Labour Party – and hosted a Cabinet minister at a lavish dinner in China.

The Labour Party has previously accused the Government of “cash for access” deals with Donghua Liu, who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson and whose hotel was later opened by Prime Minister John Key.

But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

The source said Liu also hosted Rick Barker, the then Internal Affairs Minister, at a dinner in his hometown of Chongqing.

Mr Barker, who is now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay, confirmed he was a guest at the dinner and also visited Liu’s cement company while on holiday in China

But he said he was not aware Liu was a Labour donor and he was not in China on official business as a minister. . .

Political donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is declared. . . .

Kiwiblog corrects that last statement:

. . . If a donation at an auction or dinner is larger than the disclosure threshold it must be declared with the identity of the individual who made it.

The disclosure limit in 2007 was $10,000. Liu donated $15,000 to Labour. The party should have declared him as a donor. . .

This is yet another Labour failure to abide by the disclosure rules.

There is another interesting aspect to this story – it comes from a party source.

That points to instability and unhappiness in the party’s ranks and raises some questions:

Who knew about the donation then who is in caucus now or still active in the party?

Why didn’t s/he/they warn the MPs attacking National over Liu that they were throwing stones from a glass house?

What has prompted the source of the story to talk now and what else does s/he know that the public ought to know too?


Lower welfare costs fund surplus

May 20, 2014

A reduction in welfare spending is funding the surplus.

Economic growth has helped but a faster than expected drop in the cost of welfare is the bigger contributor:

English told an audience of business people that in 2010 the Government had expected to be spending $11.5b on welfare this year.

However in following Budgets it trimmed the forecasts and this coming year it would be spending about $10.5b.

“The welfare bill is going down and going down faster than we expected. . .

English said governments in the past had been passive on these costs but National had tightened up the system and the expectations of people on welfare.

It got experts to work out what the 290,000 people on welfare would cost in the long run.

Their total liability was $76b. Apart from superannuation it was one of the big costs that underpinned the tax bill.

That is a huge amount of money, and National has proven that with the right policies it is possible to reduce it.

Two thirds of the liability came from people who first got a benefit under the age of 20. “So it confirms what grandma told you. “Don’t let those young people get off the rails because when they do it’s very expensive.”

The experts told the Government that if a person got a benefit once it made them much more likely to get a benefit again. If a young woman under 20 with a child went on a benefit the average length of stay on the benefit was 20 years.

“That’s expensive, very expensive,” English said.

A couple of years ago the Government put a supervising adult with the 4600 mostly young women under 20 with a child who were on a benefit. They typically had little education and lived in old, cold houses and had been left to sink or swim on their own.

That number had now shrunk by 40 per cent to 2600.

“And that’s going to save us hundreds of millions.”

Kiwiblog has a budget slide that illustrates the savings:

welfare

The savings aren’t just in welfare spending.

Health and educational outcomes are better for children in families supported by work rather than welfare.

Those savings aren’t just financial either – there are significant social dividends from stopping people going on to welfare and helping those who can work to work.

 

 


Nat voters non-voters

May 6, 2014

One of Labour’s strategies for winning this year’s election is to motivate the million or so people who didn’t vote.

That’s obviously based on the assumption that most of those non-voters would have voted for them, or at least one of their potential coalition partners.

A Kiwiblog reader has done some analysis which suggests many of the non-voters were National voters and concludes:

. . . Contrary to “received wisdom” it was National that suffered from the reduced turnout in 2011. Additionally, the NZ First vote was boosted primarily by defections from National. Uncontroversially, it is confirmed that Conservative votes came overwhelmingly at National’s expense.

My theory that the above phenomena were a result of complacency in the face of the widespread expectation of National waltzing home with a win remains only a theory. But it is one that fits the facts quite well.

However, it seems to me that if true, the greatest danger for National in 2014 is, again, complacency and a failure of potential supporters to vote for the party (whether by staying home or by risking a vote for other parties that may not meet the threshold criteria or may not support National after the election).

There is absolutely no complacency in National.

As Deputy leader and Finance Minister Bill English warned on Sunday, there is a very real risk that Labour and whoever it needs to get at least 51% of the vote, could win.

Last election’s 47% support was a very good result, but it won’t be enough to guarantee a National-led government this time.

National has a good record, but voters wont vote on what’s been done, they’ll vote on what they can believe will happen in the next term.

The Opposition hasn’t come up with anything workable that will make a positive difference to most people yet.

But there’s still a danger they could cobble together a coalition unless National convinces even more people to support them than voted for them three years ago.


Electorate boundaries finalised

April 17, 2014

Electorate boundaries have been finalised with changes to 46 seats.

The Electoral Act 1993 imposes strict electoral population limits binding on the Commission.  These provide an overall constraint to ensure that there are approximately equal numbers of people in each electorate so that they have equality of representation in Parliament.  All electorates must contain electoral populations varying not more than ±5% from the following quotas which are calculated in accordance with the Act:

  Quota ±5% Allowance
North Island General Electorates 59,731 ±2,986
South Island General Electorates 59,679 ±2,983
Māori Electorates  60,141 ±3,007

There’s an interactive map of old and new boundaries here.

Jadis, guest blogging at Kiwiblog has winners and losers:

Winners:

, Auckland Central – Having won and held Auckland Central by less than a thousand votes in 08 and 11 Nikki will be overjoyed to see ALL of Grey Lynn move into Mount Albert. . . .

, Christchurch Central – I am really pleased for Nicky as she was gutted when the provisional boundaries came out as they made it a strong red seat. . .

, Hamilton West – Hamilton is unique as it is the only urban centre held by the Nats .  Similar boundaries to the provisionals means that by crossing the river MacIndoe has gained some strong blue areas in a high growth zone.  . .

, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country. . .

Losers:

Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Dyson is the biggest loser in this boundary review.  Her majority has been reversed with the Nats stronghold of Halswell moving into the seat, and Anderton’s old stomping ground of Sydenham moving into Christchurch Central. . .

, Hutt South – This is the surprise of the final boundaries.  Mallard has gained all of the  Western Hills (good Nat territory) and lost super red areas of Naenae and Rimutaka. Labour should have been able to stop this occurring but appear to have put up no fight.  Mallard should be furious with his party for failing to keep Hutt South a real red seat. . . .

, Maungakiekie – Labour were grumpy in 2008 when Sam took one of ‘their’ red seats in Maungakiekie, so they will no doubt be pleased that the blue booths have almost all been taken out of Maungakiekie.  Beaumont would be silly to think her win is a foregone conclusion as Sam will throw everything into his beloved electorate and is able to cross party divides for electorate support.  This seat is too close to call.  Another true marginal.

It looks like National has gained more and lost less than Labour which could well end up with fewer electorates than it has now.

Does this mean Labour, having failed to get its dead wood to go voluntarily is prepared to lose seats in the hope of renewal in three year’s time?

Or is it just another sign the party can’t get its act together?

 


Take a bow NZ

April 7, 2014

Kiwiblog lists New Zealand’s place in a variety of  international rankings:

  • Rule of Law 6th
  • Economic Freedom 5th
  • Best to do business in 2nd
  • Least Corrupt 1st
  • Open Data 4th
  • Prosperous 5th
  • Best to be a woman 7th
  • Competitiveness 18th
  • Peaceful 3rd
  • Democratic 5th
  • Human Development 6th
  • Best for working women 1st
  • Freedom 1st
  • Open Budget 2nd
  • Best to be a mother 4th
  • Humanitarian responses 3rd
  • Smallest gender gap 5th
  • Generous 1st
  • Least failed 7th
  • Trade competitiveness 4th
  • Social progress 1st

No-one is suggesting there isn’t room for improvement in many areas.

But this is a list of which we can be proud.

Take a bow New Zealand.


It is about trust

April 1, 2014

The latest poll shows trust matters to voters.

David Cunliffe’s problems with the trust he used to hide donations has turned off voters.

In the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll, when asked if his actions were worthy of a Prime Minister, 65 percent of voters, almost two-thirds, said “no”, while only 27 percent said “yes”. . .

Kiwiblog shows support for most opposition leaders goes up after they’re elected but Cunilffe’s trend has been all down hill.
Given he’s been caught faking his CV, bungling policy announcements, using a trust and then trying to say he wasn’t wealthy, this is no more than he deserves.

Free enterprise best anti-poverty measure

January 27, 2014

Dr. Mark J. Perry provides the chart of the century:
wordpoverty2-600x387

 

. . . the chart above could perhaps qualify as the “chart of the century” because it illustrates one of the most remarkable achievements in human history: the 80% reduction in world poverty in only 36 years, from 26.8% of the world’s population living on $1 or less (in 1987 dollars) in 1970 to only 5.4% in 2006. (Source: The 2009 NBER working paper “Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income,” by economists Maxim Pinkovskiy (MIT) and Xavier Sala-i-Martin (Columbia University).

What accounts for this great achievement that you never hear about? AEI president Arthur Brooks explains in the video below, summarized here:

It turns out that between 1970 and 2010 the worst poverty in the world – people who live on one dollar a day or less – that has decreased by 80 percent (see chart above). You never hear about that.

It’s the greatest achievement in human history, and you never hear about it.

80 percent of the world’s worst poverty has been eradicated in less than 40 years. That has never, ever happened before.

So what did that? What accounts for that? United Nations? US foreign aid? The International Monetary Fund? Central planning? No.

It was globalization, free trade, the boom in international entrepreneurship. In short, it was the free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world.

I will state, assert and defend the statement that if you love the poor, if you are a good Samaritan, you must stand for the free enterprise system, and you must defend it, not just for ourselves but for people around the world. It is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.

Politicians on the left like to think they are the champions of the poor.

Yet they fight tooth and nail against free trade, denounce globalisation and promote policies which would get in the way of free enterprise.

Rather than policies which assist free enterprise they proffer ones which get in the way of it, favouring redistribution rather than growth.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2013 in review

January 1, 2014

The clever WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 370,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 16 days for that many people to see it. . . 

The top referring sites were:

  1. nominister.blogspot.co.nz
  2. keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz
  3. kiwiblog.co.nz
  4. nzconservative.blogspot.co.nz
  5. twitter.com

The most prolific commenters were:

  • 1 TraceyS 1383 comments
  • 2 robertguyton 811 comments
  • 3 Andrei 722 comments
  • 4 Viv 629 comments
  • 5 Armchair Critic 448 comments

Thank you to the people who write the blogs which refer readers here, the people who visit and the people who comment.

Click here to see the complete report.


This doesn’t mean Maori are over-represented

December 10, 2013

Kiwiblog makes an interesting observation on the make-up of parliament:

Incidentally with Williams and Hayes both replacing non-Maori MPs, the number of MPs in Parliament of Maori descent is a record 25 out of 121, or 21% of Parliament. That is a significant over-representation. The makeup of the Maori MPs in Parliament is:

  • Maori seats 7
  • General seats 6
  • List seats 12

Very very hard to claim you need the Maori seats to continue, to maintain effective Maori representation in Parliament.

The breakdown of the 25 Maori MPs is also interesting:

  • National 9
  • Labour 7
  • Greens 3
  • Maori 3
  • NZ First 1
  • Mana 1
  • Independent 1

That might be over-representation as a percentage.

It doesn’t mean Maori are over-represented.

As Te Ururoa Flavell pointed out most Maori seats are too big which makes effective representation much more difficult.

The solution isn’t more Maori seats, it’s getting rid of them.

That would add another general seat in the South Island and several in the North, all of which would be smaller and easier to service than the biggest electorates are now.

The Royal Commission which designed MMP said there would be no need for Maori seats under this voting system.

That the majority of Maori MPs hold general or list seats proves that.


Learning to be leader

November 12, 2013

As  backbencher you can pick your fights. An opposition leader can too but has to be careful about which s/he picks.

On the lists of things you should be above are attacks on a by-election candidate in a seat your party is expected to win but David Cunliffe made the mistake of getting stuck in to Matthew Doocey, National’s candidate for Christchurch East.

That has provided Doocey with the free publicity of a letter to the editor:

I am writing to express my surprise at the personal and desperate attack on me by the Leader of the Labour Party. I was not given the opportunity to respond to comments from David Cunliffe which were published on Friday November 8.

For the record I have expressed no interest and am not even thinking about any other election other than the one taking place right now in Christchurch East. I have been working hard nor for a number of weeks in what to date has been a positive campaign: my Facebook page demonstrates this.

Mr Cunliffe has inadvertently given my campaign another confidence-building boost, as I attempt to make history and take thsi seat from labour.

It was only one week ago  that the prime minister launched my campaign and it would appear I am already seen as a threat the the Opposition leader. Surely this must be some kind of political record.

For Mr Cunliffe to target me as some sort of carpetbagger is both insulting and wrong. I grew up in Christchurch and I”ll be here long after the by-election. Unlike other candidates I was was not parachuted in from Auckland at the expense of local nominees.

I’m running a strong campaign in Christchurch East and have had tremendous support from almost all of the senior MPs in John Key’s National caucus.

I can only assume Mr Cunliffe’s outburst is a symptom of desperation and.or poor polling for Labour in Christchurch East, where the community is questioning where the nearly 100 years of Labour representation has got them. Matthew Doocey, National candidate Christchurch East.

As is the way today, the free publicity doesn’t stop with The Press.

The letter has been picked up by CoNZervative, Kiwiblog and Keeping Stock.

When a mammoth attack a mouse and loses, the mammoth looks much smaller.

An aspiring Prime Minister shouldn’t even notice a by-election candidate from another party, let alone launch a personal attack on him.

This is the second time in a week Cunliffe has got publicity for looking less than leader-like.

The first was for his refusal to appear on The Farming Show with Jamie Mackay in case he didn’t get a fair hearing and would be made fun of.

I covered that here and the story has also been picked up by Keeping Stock and Kiwiblog.

When you’re opposition leader you can pick your challenges but an aspiring Prime Minister wouldn’t turn down a regular slot on nationwide-radio for fear of being made fun of.

This was a mistake on several counts, the three biggest being that the slot is now taken by Green co-leader Russel Norman; that he’s supposedly rediscovered the regions and is trying to appeal to them and that’s where the show gets blanket coverage; and  it makes him look like a lesser leader.


Right and wrong not left and right

October 23, 2013

A former Labour MP who worked with people from across the political spectrum on a local body campaign said he’d come to the conclusion that left wing people were far more likely to see things through a political lens than those from the right.

Some people are trying to turn Len Brown’s affair into a right wing conspiracy.

It’s not.

Cameron Slater, who broke the story on his blog Whaleoil, is from the blue end of the political spectrum.

But he doesn’t let that get in the way of his posts. He’d have run the story regardless of the mayor’s political affiliation.

That’s one of the reasons his blog is so popular. Like David Farrar on Kiwiblog, he’ll give praise and criticism where it’s due regardless of the subject’s politics.

Other people from the right had some involvement with Bevan Chuang but Jane Clifton points out:

There’s been much tut-tuttery about the fact that the source of the story was Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil, one of the country’s best-read blogs, which is aggressively pro-National Party to boot. Slater’s father ran the campaign for Brown’s closest mayoralty rival, a campaign Brown’s inamorata was close to through her friendship with another campaign activist. This has brought claims she was secretly working for the other side. Which just goes to show there’s plenty of hypocrisy, paranoia and self-delusion to go around. It’s common for journalists and political junkies in the twittersphere to denounce Whale Oil as “gutter” blogging. But not for the first time, the gutter-shunning media have piled onto Slater’s ruck without a second’s hesitation.

Allegations that this is a deliberate smear campaign generated from within the National Party to destroy a left-leaning mayor are somewhat ambitious. To the best of my knowledge, the National Party cannot make a married man have an affair. For two years. Or trick him into sending silly texts that might be kept and used against him. Or force him to conduct how’s-your-father in the Ngati Whatua conference room of the council chambers.

There’s also the inconvenient fact that the blog did not run the story till after the local body elections in which Brown was safely re-elected. He is unsackable. . .

But the political views of those involved in the affair and its exposure is irrelevant anyway.

This isn’t about right and left, it’s about right and wrong.

Andrew McMillan provides a timeline of events which show:

Brown, who portrayed himself as a loving family man  and committed Christian had a prolonged affair.

He had a sexual trysts in council premises on council time.

The woman with whom he had the relationship was on a council advisory board. That’s not a direct employee but as mayor he was in a position of power and she could be considered to be vulnerable.

He wrote her a reference, and as a side issue he admitted writing worthless references:

Was it an abuse of power to provide a reference for Bevan Chuang?

It was the very early stages of us knowing each other. I have provided many references in supports of lots and lots of friends and people that I know. The letter of support I wrote was a reasonable letter. I tend to be quite positive in my writing for the many people I write references for. It wasn’t a reference that was requested or provided for that was out of the norm. It was, for me, a fairly typical reference done at a time when, quite frankly, we hadn’t known each other all that long. . .

A reference from the mayor would carry considerable weight but his words suggest he dashes them off frequently and in this case without knowing the subject all that long.

Whether that is appropriate for a mayor might be moot but the impact on his family from his infidelity and what it says about his character is not.

Whatever his politics and those of the people who exposed him, he is in the wrong.

Whether or not it will require a resignation will depend on the outcome of a council inquiry.

But whatever it determines won’t make his behaviour right.


One of biggest electorates will get smaller

October 8, 2013

Statistics New Zealand’s release of census data yesterday gives the first indication of changes in electorates.

  • The number of electorates will increase from 70 to 71 at the next general election.
  • The number of North Island general electorates will increase from 47 to 48.
  • The number of Māori electorates will remain at seven.
  • The number of general electorates in the South Island is set at 16 by the Electoral Act 1993.
  • In a 120-seat parliament (excluding any overhang seats), a total of 71 electorates will result in 49 list seats being allocated. This is one less list seat than in the 2011 General Election.
  • The Representation Commission can now review the electorate boundaries for the next general election.

The excel sheet under downloads on the link above shows population changes in electorates.

Kiwiblog has checked that out and found:

Since the 2006 census, the SI electoral population has grown by 3.7%, the NI by 6.6% and the Maori electoral population by just 0.9%.

The seats that are the most over quota and must lose territory are:

  1. Auckland Central 70,406
  2. Hunua 68,951
  3. Helensville 68,026
  4. Selwyn 67,818
  5. Rodney 67,134
  6. Wigram 65,433
  7. Waitaki 64,962
  8. Hamilton East 64,577
  9. Waimakariri 64,454
  10. Wellington Central 64,374
  11. Rangitata 64,142
  12. East Coast Bays 64,005
  13. Maungakiekie 63,274
  14. Epsom 62,990
  15. Tāmaki 62,779
  16. Tauranga 62,741

So those 16 seats must shrink. What seats are under the 5% tolerance and must grow:

  1. Christchurch East 45,967
  2. Port Hills 53,667
  3. East Cost 53,960
  4. Christchurch Central 54,104
  5. Rangitikei 56,364

The other 49 seats can stay the same size in theory. But it is likely many will have some change because of flow on effects from neighbours.

The migration after Christchurch’s earthquakes is probably the reason for most of the growth in Waimakariri and Selwyn.

They will lose some ground to boost the Christchurch electorates which now have too few people.

Selwyn might have to push south into Rangitata which will then extend into Waitaki, both of which are over quota. It would make sense for the area closest to Timaru which moved from what was the Aoraki Electorate into Waitaki, to be in Rangitata.

Waitaki will have to shrink. It is now 34,888 square kilometres in area, the third biggest general electorate in the country. Any reduction in its size will be welcomed by its MP Jacqui Dean and her constituents.


Labour threatening superannuation

September 9, 2013

Kiwiblog points out that if Labour enacts what is an effective minimum wage of $18.40 it will have an impact on superannuation.

The pension is based on 66% of the average wage for a couple. If the average wage goes up, as it will if the ‘living wage’ is introduced then superannuation will too unless Labour changes the way it is calculated.

The party is already proposing to increase the age of eligibility for superannuation because it says it’s not affordable now.

What changes will they have to make to ensure it’s affordable if they keep it based on 66% of the average wage?

Even if, as is inevitable, they have to accept that the ‘living wage’ is unsustainable, one of their other policies will impact on superannuation.

They’re promising tax increases.

The pension is based on the average wage after tax.

When taxes fall, as they have under National, the average after-tax wage increases and so does the pension.

When taxes increase the average after-tax wage will fall. It would be political suicide to cut the pension but if they increase taxes and do nothing else pensions won’t increase or will do so more slowly.

Whichever of the policies you look at, the current rate of superannuation is under threat under a LabourGreen government.


Hollow promises from hollow men

September 4, 2013

Kiwiblog has a useful guide to which aspiring Labour leader is promising what.

But how much are these promises worth?

When Jamie Mackay said on the Farming Show yesterday, that the leadership race was turning into a lolly scramble, Labour MP Damien O’Connor said:

“There’s no kind of lolly scramble because we don’t have the lollies to give away unfortunately. . .

Then Mackay mentioned the living wage and O’Connor said:

“That’s one of the proposals from one of the candidates. . .  well, maybe two . . . I’m sure caucus when we appoint the new leader will go through, look at all the ideas that were thrown out through this process and make sure we have a credible bunch of policies in the lead up to the next election. . . “

So these are merely ideas that are being thrown out, and expensive ideas that even one of their backbench colleagues recognises as being unaffordable.

They’re not real promises about real policy.

They’re empty exercises in vote-buying.

They’re hollow promises from hollow men.


New face, old ideas

September 1, 2013

Yesterday’s speeches by Labour’s aspiring leaders (reported in the Herald, Stuff and Kiwiblog) show that even when the party has a new face it will still have old ideas.

Their ideas are focussed on redistribution rather than growth.

Their ideas are based on higher taxes to enable higher spending.

Their ideas are bad ideas.

They are worse than those of Helen Clark’s government which put New Zealand into recession before the global financial crisis hit the rest of the world.

They are ones which show they haven’t learned from recent history and that they are blind to the improvements National has made, delivering better results with less money.

They are the ones which reward their union funders with policies which are ultimately to the detriment of workers.

They are the same old failed policies which would take the country backwards, make it poorer and make life even more difficult for the most vulnerable.

Regardless of which face is pedalling these old ideas, he will provide everyone who understands the stupidity of veering left, undoing the good that’s been done, and reversing much needed improvements, with the imperative to vote centre-right.


Compare and contrast

August 21, 2013

What’s the difference between National’s GCSB Bill and the one passed into law by Helen Clark’s government in 2003?

Given the emotion generated by the current Bill you’d think that someone in the mainstream media would have compared and contrasted the two pieces of legislation.

No-one has so Kiwiblog has done it:

Helen Clark GCSB law 2003 John Key GCSB law 2013
Inspector-General sole independent oversight two person advisory panel to assist the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security
Inspector-General has no staff resources Inspector-General has a Deputy
Inspector-General role is essentially reactive Inspector-General to proactively annually review GCSB procedures, policies and compliance and do unscheduled audits
Inspector General not informed when a warrant is put on the register relating to a New Zealander Inspector General is informed when a warrant is put on the register relating to a New Zealander
GCSB can’t intercept the communications of a NZ citizen or permanent resident but can assist “any public authority” on any matter relevant to their functions, and unclear if the former prevents the latter GCSB can’t intercept the communications of a NZ citizen or permanent resident but can assist (only the) Police, Defence Force or SIS even if it involves a NZer.
No reporting of assistance given to other agencies GCSB will be required to report annually on the number of instances when it has provided assistance to the Police, SIS or NZ Defence Force
No reporting on number of warrants and authorisations GCSB will also be required to report annually on the number of warrants and authorisations issued
Intelligence and Security Committee has secret hearings to discuss the financial reviews of the performance of the GCSB and the SIS Intelligence and Security Committee will hold public hearings annually to discuss the financial reviews of the performance of the GCSB and the SIS
ISC does not have to publicly report to Parliament ISC to report annually to Parliament on its activities
No regular reviews of GCSB An independent review of the operations and performance the GCSB and the NZSIS and their governing legislation in 2015, and thereafter every 5-7 years
GCSB has a function to protect any information that any public authority or other entity produces, sends, receives, or holds in any medium GCSB function to protect any communications that any public entity processed, stored, or communicated in or through information infrastructures
No specification of limits of GCSB assistance Specifies that GCSB can assist Police, Defence Force and SIS, but only for lawful activities such as where warrants have been granted
IPCA has no jurisdiction Gives the IPCA and the IGIS jurisdiction to review any assistance given to Police and SIS respectively
No references to according to human rights standards Specifies all functions of GCSB must accord with NZ law, and all human rights standards recognised by NZ law.
No references to not undertaking partisan activity Specifies GCSB can’t be involved in any action that helps or harms a political party
No requirement to brief the Leader of the Opposition GCSB Director required to brief Leader of Opposition regularly on major activities of GCSB
Requires GCSB to destroy any records not relating to GCSB objectives or functions Required GCSB to not retain any information on NZers collected incidentally as part of foreign intelligence operations unless relates to serious crime, loss of life or national security threats
No special protection for legally privileged communications Legally privileged communications explicitly exempted from scope of an interception warrant
No requirement to have a policy on personal information retention and use GCSB required to work with Privacy Commission to have a policy on personal information retention and use 
No restrictions in GCSB Act on retaining personal information GCSB can only retain personal information for a lawful purpose, and can’t keep longer than required for any lawful purpose

The law currently being debated and roundly condemned has a lot more protections than the one it will replace.

Where were all the protesters in 2003?

More to the point why are opposition MPs who voted for the 2003 law opposing the new law with greater protections?

And another question – if the opposition knows this law is so bad why haven’t they laid out exactly what they’ll replace it with when they are eventually in government?


Power prices

April 21, 2013

I was the National Party’s electorate chair when Max Bradford introduced the power reforms.

It wasn’t an easy time to be a volunteer in the party – people inside and outside opposed the changes.

More than a decade later many still regard them as a mistake and blame them for steep increases in the price of power.

But as this graph from Kiwiblog shows, that is wrong.

Electricity-Prices-1982-2012

Labour are saying that it was the Bradford reforms that led to increased prices. in fact the four years after the reforms saw the smallest increases in 25 years.

Also worth noting that of the increases in the last four years, two of them were due to external factors – the GST increase (which had compensating tax cuts) and the introduction of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

A variety of factors impact on the price of power.

The most obvious one this graph shows is Labour governments and the LabourGreen plan to nationalise wholesale power could well make that worse.


Act x NZ First

April 3, 2013

The Focus NZ Party, which began life as the Rural Party, has more than 400 of the minimum of 500 members it needs to register as a political party.

The Focus NZ party, headed by Kerikeri farmer and businessman Ken Rintoul, was formed last year around a group of farmers opposed to big rate increases proposed by the Far North District Council. . .

The policies released so far are something of a grab-bag from across the political spectrum, incorporating some of the philosophy and business-friendly approach of Act with a dose of NZ First’s interventionist economic nationalism. . .

Like some other small parties which have started its policies appear contradictory – it wants to cut taxes, which is a business-friendly policy, but it also favours a new tax on international transactions which is business unfriendly.

It’s also opposed to asset sales which isn’t a pro-business stance either.

Fortunately, its chances of being in a position to translate its policies into practice are slight.

Kiwiblog tables the best election results under MMP for parties that didn’t already have an MP in parliament:

  • 99 MPs 0.03%
  • ACT 7.14%
  • Advance NZ 0.05%
  • Animals First 0.17%
  • Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis 1.66%
  • Asia Pacific United 0.02%
  • Bill & Ben 0.56%
  • Christian Heritage 2.38%
  • Christian Coalition 4.33%
  • Conservative 2.65%
  • Democrats for Social Credit 0.08%
  • Destiny 0.62%
  • Direct Democracy 0.03%
  • Ethnic Minority 0.12%
  • Family Party 0.35%
  • Family Rights 0.05%
  • Freedom 0.02%
  • Future NZ 1.12%
  • Green Society 0.11%
  • Kiwi Party 0.54%
  • Libertarianz 0.29%
  • Mana Maori 0.25%
  • Mauri Pacific 0.19%
  • McGillycuddy Serious 0.29%
  • Natural Law 0.15%
  • NMP 0.05%
  • NZ Conservative 0.07%
  • NZ Super & Youth 0.06%
  • One NZ 0.09%
  • Outdoor Recreation 1.28%
  • Pacific Party 0.37%
  • People’s Choice 0.02%
  • Progressive Greens 0.26%
  • RAM 0.02%
  • Republic of NZ Party 0.02%
  • South Island 0.14%
  • Te Tawharau 0.02%
  • Workers Party 0.04%

So of those 38 parties, only ACT have made it in. 31 parties have failed to make even 1% and six parties made 1%. Of those six, four were effectively Christian parties, plus ALCP and Outdoor Recreation.

That list includes the Christian Coalition which was led by sitting, and former National, MP Graeme Lee.

To add evidence of just how difficult it is for a new party to gain traction you could add to that list parties formed by or with at least one sitting MP who failed to win a seat at the next election. Among them was ROC, formed by Ross Meurant who left National to form his own party and who is on the board of Focus NZ.

The 500 members required to form a party is a very low hurdle and Focus NZ will probably find enough people to jump that. Succeeding from there is much harder.

Persuading people to vote for a new party which doesn’t have an MP and is contesting the list vote only takes a lot of volunteers, a lot of good publicity and a lot of money.

Focus NZ  could be seen as a threat to National but there are already plenty of options for people who don’t want to vote for it.

The new party is much more likely to take the disgruntled vote from smaller parties which could hurt them but it would be a safe bet that Focus NZ won’t attract enough support to win even one seat in parliament.


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